How to Support Refugees In Your Community
You Can Make a Difference In the Lives of Refugees
Due to unjust and unsafe circumstances in countries around the world, there are more than 60 million refugees in the world today.
Many of these refugees are living in dire circumstances, and even those who are fortunate enough to have found their ways to shelter and generally safe environments are still greatly disadvantaged in many ways.
As Patrick Kearon said in his recent address entitled Refuge from the Storm, "This moment does not define the refugees, but our response will help define us."
Now is a time when we as individuals can choose to serve those in need and bless the lives of those who have already gone through unthinkable trials that most of us will never have to experience in our lives.
I've wanted to reach out and help refugees for quite some time, but for most of that time I wasn't sure how I could do that from my little corner of the world. I have a feeling that there are a lot more people out there like me, who would love to make a difference if they had a little direction on how to make that a possibility.
You may be surprised to discover that there are many ways that you as an individual can bless the lives of refugees without spending any money at all.
There are many organizations that allow people to serve refugees in a variety of ways so that people in almost any circumstance can be a part of the effort to help these less fortunate individuals find refuge from the storms of life.
This moment does not define the refugees, but our response will help define us.— Patrick Kearon
What Can You Do to Make a Difference?
Obviously, if you have more money or physical resources than time, there are plenty of organizations that can put those to good use in the effort to aid refugees around the world (and likely in your community as well), but even if you lack physical resources to share, you can still be a part of the relief effort.
This website is a great resource for coming up with simple ways to help refugees in your area. It provides many suggestions for service and points out that helping a refugee can be as easy as:
- Welcoming new people to the neighborhood
- Being a sincere friend
- Taking a stand against intolerance
- Helping children study for school or helping people of any age learn a language
- Donating household items.
Justserve,org is another great resource to find ways that you can serve in your community.
This video shows how one individual was able to make a difference in the life of a refugee without spending any money at all.
Who Can I Contact to Know How to Help?
It can be difficult to know which charitable organizations you can actually trust when you are trying to find a way to serve. I found the I Was a Stranger website to be useful in giving me ideas of how I could serve. This website is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has some great ideas about where to start your search for service opportunities.
In doing a little Googling of my own, I found reputable organizations in a variety of locations that provide relief to refugees. I specifically searched for groups that provide volunteering opportunities rather than just asking for money (although I'm sure any of them would appreciate a monetary donation).
Some or the organizations I found were:
- The International Rescue Committee (Check out the "how you can help" tab)
- Worldrelief.org (the "act now" tab provides volunteer opportunities)
- The Un Refugee Agency (click on "get involved" to see how you can help)
I recommend Googling "refugee support" with the addition of your city's name in order to find local needs and opportunities to serve.
My Personal Experience With Serving Refugees
It turns out that I heard Patrick Kearon's address about helping refugees the same weekend that my husband and I decided we were moving out of state, and the timing was perfect!
We had two love seats that we didn't want to bring with us and rather than donating them to the thrift store like I previously would have done, I thought I'd do some research to see if there was any way we could give those love seats to refugees in the area.
With a quick Google search of the words "refugee support Salt Lake," I came across the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
I was hoping to find somewhere to drop off my furniture where it would be put to a good use, but the IRC made things even easier than that.
All it took was a quick phone call to arrange a time when a gentleman would come pick up the love seats from my house. Talk about an easy and convenient way to bless the lives of refugees! I didn't even have to take any time out from packing!
The IRC has a frequently asked questions page specifically for those who are trying to figure out how they can help refugees. It not only teaches you how to donate money, but it also provides information about ways to volunteer your time.